Google Worker’s Lawsuit Says Manager Called Him ‘Old and Slow’

Employee sued for age bias shortly after company settled job seekers’ class action

Lisa Nagele-Piazza, J.D., SHRM-SCP By Lisa Nagele-Piazza, J.D., SHRM-SCP September 23, 2019
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A 72-year-old Google engineer claimed he was forced to resign because of his manager's alleged age-based discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

The California-based worker filed a lawsuit against the tech giant asserting violations of the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), among other claims. He alleged that his manager called him "old and slow" and "grandpa" and threatened to "get rid of" him.

Google, however, claims no wrongdoing. "These claims are unsubstantiated, and we intend to defend them vigorously," a company spokesperson told SHRM Online.

We've gathered articles on this issue from SHRM Online and other trusted media outlets.

Worker Says New Manager Created Hostile Environment

The former Google engineer claimed in a lawsuit that his manager engaged in a "relentless campaign" of discrimination and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him because of his age. The plaintiff started working at Google in July 2007 as a hardware test engineer. In 2017, he was assigned to a new supervisor who he claims reprimanded him for being "in retirement mode." The manager allegedly told the plaintiff he would "hit him where it hurts." The plaintiff also said his car was broken into shortly after his manager boasted about his criminal connections. The plaintiff claimed that the harassment and retaliation worsened after he complained about it.

(Forbes)

Company Recently Settled Job Seekers' Age-Discrimination Suit

In July, Google agreed to pay $11 million to end a class-action lawsuit involving 227 people who accused the company of systemically discriminating against job applicants who were over the age of 40. Under the final settlement agreement, plaintiffs will collect an estimated $35,000 each. Parent company Alphabet Inc. must also train employees and managers about age bias, create a committee on age diversity in recruiting, and make sure complaints are adequately investigated.

(SHRM Online)

California Protection Against Age Discrimination 

In addition to the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, California's FEHA protects workers age 40 and older from age-based employment discrimination. The ADEA applies to employers with at least 20 employees, whereas FEHA's anti-discrimination rules apply to businesses with five or more employees. Employers should note, however, that California's anti-harassment provisions apply to employers of any size. Under federal and California law, workers can assert viable age-discrimination claims even when both the claimant and the alleged harasser are age 40 or older.

(EEOC and FEHA)

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Employing Older Workers]  

50 Years After Age Discrimination Became Illegal, It Persists

More than 50 years after Congress made it illegal for employers to discriminate against older workers, a new data analysis by the Urban Institute and ProPublica shows that more than half of older U.S. workers are pushed out of longtime jobs before they choose to retire, suffering financial damage that is often irreversible.

(SHRM Online)

How to Avoid Ageism

Today's older workers are better-educated and living longer than any previous generation. They also want to remain in the workforce longer, but discrimination and outdated assumptions are making that a tricky proposition for many experienced employees. Here's what employers can do to help avoid ageism in the workplace.

(SHRM Online)

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